Dear Amy:

I live in a close-knit neighborhood where there are many events, such as cookouts, parties, etc. One couple, who I suspect are alcoholics, get drunk at every function -- even those involving children.

I've suggested a neighborhood intervention, but no one will go there, so we've had to distance ourselves from these gatherings.

This couple has two young children who are starting to recognize their parents' behavior as being inappropriate.

Worried Neighbor

Your neighborhood intervention isn't a good idea, but neither is your withdrawing from neighborhood events because of this drinking problem.

The person closest to this couple should speak with one or both of them. This isn't going to be easy, but because they sound fairly out of control, it should be done.

If you choose to take this on (and it sounds as if this job should fall to you because you are the most concerned about it), you should speak with one or both of them and say that you have noticed their drinking and are concerned about it.

In the future, if these people become drunk at a neighborhood event, someone should offer to walk them home and to watch their kids, telling them that their sobriety at these public events is non-negotiable.

I frequently hear from adult children of alcoholics who say that they wish that another adult had attempted to shield them from their parents' drinking. Though you will not be able to fix this, you really should convey your concern and urge them to get help.

Dear Amy:

I am 21 years old and hope you'll give me some honest answers. I really trust your point of view.

I am in a relationship with someone whom I love very much. We have only been together for five months, three of which he has spent in jail. I have fallen hard and fast for him! He is very good to me and tells me that he really cares about me and loves me very much. We have a very open and honest relationship, but I am worried about his bad temper.

He was brought up "on the streets," and he has always lived the "hard-knock" life. I am waiting for him to get sentenced to find out when he will get out of prison. When he does, we are planning on living together! He has a history with his temper, but he is working on that now, learning other ways to deal with things that stress him.

He tells me that he is going to do what it takes to make sure that he doesn't get locked up again, but my mother tells me that guys like him tend to say what girls want to hear so that they will stick around. My mother wishes that I would leave him.

I feel that if I stick around and show him unconditional love, respect and honesty, then he will be able to change into a man and handle things better. I know that I am still young, but I am very mature for my age and want to settle down. I can see myself with him for a very long time!

Can you give me some insight?


Not all people who have a hard-knock life or grow up on the streets have uncontrollable tempers. I point that out because it is my job to remove excuses number one and two from your reasoning. Your guy is responsible for his own actions.

Now that I have your attention, let me say loud and clear that you must not move in with him.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in any relationship is to hope that you will be able to change somebody else.

You cannot change him. Changing is his job. Talk is cheap, especially in prison, where people have every reason to talk a good game and no way to prove anything.

I imagine that your mother is very worried about you. It's very sweet of you to think that unconditional love, respect and honesty can cure an out-of-control temper, but it just doesn't work that way. The fact that you think you can perform such an extreme makeover on this guy is an indication that you are not as mature as you think you are. Take your good heart and compassion and find somebody who is available to reciprocate and give you the life you deserve.

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